May 23, 2024

During the 2016 Presidential elections, I campaigned and voted for Rodrigo R. Duterte.
I believed in his program of government. His mantra that he will eradicate drug syndicates and drug addiction in the country was too good to pass upon.
His promise to amend the constitution to attune the system of government from presidential to parliamentary and to transform the nation into a federal state was very appealing.
His commitment to preserve the national territory and to fight for the integrity of our exclusive economic zone as awarded by the International Arbitration Court was an act of patriotism that only a true statesman can bequeath.
He was the only candidate who appeared sincere and true to his word. Apparently, I was not the only one who believed in him because by a landslide, he won.
For the six years that he governed the country, he did so with an iron hand. His policy seems to have worked for a time. We heard of stories about barangays being cleansed of drug addicts and we heard about so-called narco-politicians being assassinated.
We were convinced that the killings were necessary in order to weed out the scums of the society. We kept silent about the creeping intrusion of China over the West Philippine Sea trusting and expecting that Duterte was in control.
We knew that with his pivot to China, we will not be left out when it comes to exploiting and exploring the natural resources that rightfully belongs to us. We were assured that we were in good hands.
Fast forward to the present time and I realize that our situation is not far better than where we were before Duterte became our president. In fact, in some aspects, we are worst.
Only now do I understand the mechanics of how the past administration brainwashed us into catering and aiding by their whims and caprices. Only now do I realize that they were only double talking. Let me illustrate.
First, on Constitutional amendment, Duterte is singing a different tune. Whereas before, he was an ardent advocate of constitutional amendment because according to him it is necessary, he now advocates exactly the opposite. He is, in fact, weaponizing charter change to discredit the Marcos administration.
Second, when Duterte cannot find a worthy successor, he endorsed Marcos to the extent that even his daughter, Sara, teamed up with the latter to form the Uniteam. Both won by a landslide. Subjectively, Marcos is doing a great job as president.
Yet, Duterte is besmirching the reputation of the same candidate he earlier praised by saying all sorts of unverifiable and mind-boggling “below the belt” transactions against Marcos like “polvoronic,” “bangag,” “drug addict” and other terms not fit to be said by a man of his stature.
Third and the most serious is the status of the Philippines’ claim over the West Philippine Sea. In the past, Duterte asserted an unyielding aversion over the area, even bragging that he will personally set sail on a Jet Ski to plant the Philippine flag on that area, it turned out that it was merely a joke. That is the main problem about Duterte. It is very difficult to discern whether he is joking or not.
It was recently leaked that Duterte entered into a “gentleman’s agreement” with the Chinese government to preserve the status quo at the West Philippine Sea, whatever that means. By doing so, China wants our country to be bound by it. This, therefore, emboldened China to invoke a dominant claim over the disputed area using it as a justification to shoo away our fishermen and our navy.
Anent the drug war, the number of deaths does not justify the end that was achieved. “Tokhang” hardly made a dent on the menace brought about by the problem on drugs. As it stands, it only placed Duterte on a bad mood because the International Criminal Court of Justice has taken notice of the war on drugs and is singling him out for investigation.
In the past days, Duterte participated in several prayer rallies to denounce the alleged excesses of the current administration. He called on Marcos to resign. Obviously, his call was not heeded as it even backfired against him.
Duterte was able to unite the Filipino nation with his unorthodox style of government. He easily related with the masses because he spoke their language and talked to them on a level that is easy to understand. In a way, he left a lasting legacy.
Yet, with his double talking and finger-pointing, he has cast a shadow of doubt on what he seeks to accomplish. Duterte is already retired. It is best that he just keeps his mouth shut in order for him not to be in trouble.